(CNN) – CNN and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC) will host a Republican presidential town hall debate in Charleston, South Carolina just weeks before voters weigh in at the polls in that state's pivotal primary.
"On behalf of the Southern Republican Conference Board of Directors, we are very excited to be working with CNN on this important presidential town hall debate," said Ed McMullen, chairman of the SRLC board of directors. "We look forward to hosting our 2012 presidential candidates, and showcasing their conservative ideas."
The debate will be held January 19, 2012.
The South Carolina presidential primary, traditionally the first to be held among the southern states, is often a key proving ground for presidential aspirants. The 2012 primary is tentatively scheduled to be held in mid February.
"Because of South Carolina's role as the first-in-the-South, as well as the many southern states that vote on Super Tuesday, this debate provides 2012 GOP hopefuls an occasion to reach their key constituency in South Carolina and throughout the southern region," said Sam Feist, Washington bureau chief and a senior vice president of CNN.
The debate will be part of the SRLC's biennial conference, a gathering that brings top Republican activists, donors, candidates, and elected officials together for three days of speeches, issue briefings, and political training from candidates, party leaders, and other prominent conservatives.